A small part of me dies when I hear or read someone referring to the prime minister as ‘Boris’, as if they literally know him as an old friend or perhaps a slightly mad elderly relative. He can be excused virtually anything and I don’t quite understand why. For instance, he has presided over the worst COVID death rate in Europe, the fifth highest number of cases (we are about to overtake Russia to become fourth) and the fifth highest number of deaths on the entire planet. Yet people still give him the benefit of the non-existent doubt that he plainly isn’t up to the job as PM and of course the media still presents ‘Boris’ as a loveable rogue, a man you could have a pint with, someone who would make you laugh. And anyway, the media and not a few voters, often conclude with, “Yes, things are bad, but can you imagine how much worse they would have been if Jeremy Corbyn had won the 2019 general election in 2019?”

The first thing to say is that Corbyn didn’t win the 2019 election and was never going to. Voters mostly hated what they saw in this elderly crank, a career politician (oh yes he was and still is) and a man who has never had an original idea in his life. But we might as well deal with the pointless ‘what if’ question. We will never know if Corbyn would have been even worse than Johnson, but the likelihood is that he certainly wouldn’t have been any better. His likely crank cabinet, including the likes of Dianne Abbott, Richard Burgon, Ian Lavery and Rebecca Long-Bailey had the potential to match Priti Patel, Dominic Raab, Gavin Williamson and Liz Truss in terms of uselessness, but you can bet that even if an imaginary Corbyn government had presided over 100,000 deaths, the media, so supine and forgiving of Johnson, would have slaughtered Labour to the point where they were hounded from office. However, as we said, Corbyn never won the election and was never going to. Whatever we think about Labour’s most useless leader, we will never know whether he would have made as big a mess of COVID as Johnson and it doesn’t matter.

For those of us who have lost relatives and friends, and have seen relatives and friends struggle horribly with this awful disease, I see no one beyond Johnson and his government to which we should attribute blame. Johnson, we know, is an inveterate and compulsive liar. His friends – amazingly he has some friends – say that his opinions change like the wind, that the thing he says in public is the last thing he heard from someone else. COVID-19 happened on his watch, the massive death toll, together with the enormous hit on the economy, is in large part, down to him. The delayed half-arsed lockdowns, the mixed messaging, the actions of those around him who have ignored the rules and the sheer incompetence of a cabinet chosen not for ability but because of their support for a hard Brexit: this is all his work.

So ‘Ah, but Corbyn” is irrelevant. It’s just speculation, Speculation based on evidence, perhaps, but still just speculation. And I speak as someone who has always regarded Corbyn as unfit to be a party leader, never mind prime minister.

Johnson’s promises that this year would be far better than last year are already beginning to turn to dust. Our children and young people see their futures blighted by the continued closure of schools, colleges and universities, summer holidays being postponed as the virus still rages out of control and all this followed by an almighty financial crash, yet people still love ‘Boris’.

I see a very different Boris Johnson than his cheerleaders. I see a lying, dithering, opportunistic fraud who has led this country to disaster and that’s without even mentioning Brexit. A Corbyn government was always pie in the sky and we should focus on the real villain of the piece: Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.